Monday 19 February 2018

Widow settles action after husband died of heart attack hours after being discharged from hospital

Tim Healy

A WIDOW has settled her legal action over the death of her husband following a heart attack 36 hours after he was discharged from hospital with a diagnosis of a trapped nerve for pain.

James O'Driscoll, a 68-year-old senior counsel, was a well-known member of the Munster Bar when he died in 2009.

His widow Marion sued St Vincent's Health Care Group Ltd, trading as St Vincent's Hospital, Dublin, for mental distress arising from the loss of her husband.  The defendant denied the claim.

It is claimed there was a failure to carry out a further medical review of Mr O'Driscoll on five different occasions when he was detained overnight at the hospital and was given further painkillers.

There was also a failure to consider a diagnosis of coronary syndrome. There was also a failure to adhere to the hospital's own protocol for coronary symptoms, it was alleged.

The case opened nearly two weeks ago and following several days of evidence, Mr Justice John Heidigan was told yesterday the matter had been settled and could be struck out.  No details of the settlement were revealed.

Mrs O'Driscoll, Orwell Road, Rathgar, Dublin, claimed as a result of her husband's death she suffered personal injury and loss and their three grown up children have been deprived of their father's love, affection and devotion.

Her counsel had told the court management of Mr O'Driscoll in hospital and the circumstances of his discharge "fell far below the acceptable standard."

If Mr O'Driscoll - who previously had a triple bypass - had  received the appropriate  treatment, his death from a heart attack would not have occurred, it was claimed.

The court heard Mrs O'Driscoll had brought her husband to a VHI Swiftcare Clinic on March 1, 2009,  because he had pain.

Within 36 minutes he was transferred by ambulance to St Vincents  as the doctor in the clinic had concerns the pain was cardiac related.

A very rapid diagnosis regarding the pain was made by the doctor who examined Mr O'Driscoll in hospital. However, this was never re-evaluated  even though it was made without taking a targeted history, it was claimed.

This had tragic consequences for Mr O'Driscoll and his family and after he was discharged, he died on the evening of March 2, 2009, at home.

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